Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review – “Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand” by Carrie Vaughn

Already the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben now plan to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV, but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters. Elsewhere on the Strip an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harboring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.
Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand is the fifth outing for Kitty Norville in this popular urban fantasy series. Kitty and Ben are now the alpha pair of werewolves in charge of the Denver pack and are about to get married. Kitty convinces Ben to do the wedding in Las Vegas where they can get a ‘package deal’ and save them all the planning stress. Kitty’s boss at the radio station uses the opportunity to persuade Kitty do a live television show from Vegas, the next step in her exploding career as the host of her Midnight Hour talk show. Life is looking pretty good to Kitty. No one is trying to kill her and nothing weird is happening in her life. Right?

Of course Kitty’s call in show is all about exploring the weird. And if she doesn’t find it, it seems to find her. Arriving in Las Vegas Kitty learns her hotel is hosting a gun enthusiasts convention which makes her and her inner wolf nervous especially when her and Ben run into more then a few of his bounty hunter acquaintances. They don’t know Ben is now a werewolf or planning to marry Kitty. She feels there is a bullseye painted on her back.

Kitty places a courtesy call on the Master Vampire of Las Vegas who has been around Vegas since the beginning. Kitty tries to get him to tell her some insider stories she can use on her show or have him guest but he turns her down. She does learn mysteriously that there are no werewolves in town but there is a troupe of lycanthropes in a high profile animal act. Kitty does observe that there are plenty of vampires in Vegas –
I could smell them, cold islands in seas of living, sweating, breathing people.
And wryly comments –
They fed on the tourists just like everyone else in this town.
Kitty tries to recruit both a local magician and the star of the animal act for her TV show without success. They do however warn her about each other. Kitty finds this very mysterious and unsettling. Ben uses his free time while Kitty plans her show to enter a high stakes poker game. And then the other shoe drops. Ben disappears, possibly kidnapped after discovering and reporting cheating in the game by some local crime lords.

Does Kitty panic? No. The new and improved Kitty exudes a confidence in her ability to find and save Ben and exhibits an inner strength that has grown with each book in the series. For the rest of the novel Kitty channels her inner Sam Spade - following clues, confronting suspects and enlisting aid from unlikely sources.

Carrie Vaughn weaves a pulse-pounding plot that uncovers some dark secrets about the supernatural forces at work in Las Vegas. Kitty is surprised to find allies among her enemies and is caught unprepared by some she assumed were no threat. Kitty is constantly at risk and the tension and momentum of the story make for a great read. Of course a Kitty story is never complete without her getting captured by the bad guys at least once -
This wasn’t the first time I’d woken up naked in a strange place. It was never a good thing.
Does Kitty rescue Ben? Do they get married? You’ll have to get the book to find out. Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand ends with an intriguing cliff-hanger leading into the next book Kitty Raises Hell. And the wonderful thing is you will only have to wait a month as it releases March 1. Check back on Monday for my review.

Fans of the Kitty Norville series will find Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand one of the best Kitty adventures to date. As a character Kitty just keeps growing and evolving, getting better and better. Those new to the series should consider starting from the beginning, but this installment stands very well on its own and can definitely be enjoyed by new readers.

A final note about the book title for those that may have been wondering - a ‘dead man’s hand’ is a five-card-draw poker hand that contains two-pair, “aces and eights” – reputedly the hand held by the legendary Wild Bill Hickock at the time of his murder. Fortunately Kitty plays her cards a little differently.

Excerpt from Chapter 1.

Recent Interviews:
Amberkatze’s Book Blog
Bitten by Books

Grand Central Publishing
Published: February 2009
ISBN #: 9780446199537
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320

Kitty Norville Series:

  1. Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005)
  2. Kitty Goes to Washington (2006)
  3. Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007)
  4. Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2008)
  5. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Feb 2009)
  6. Kitty Raises Hell (Mar 2009)


  1. AAARGH!! will you all stop taunting me! I am so going to start bugging the people at my local bookstore for this next week.

  2. I've really been looking forward to this one! I love seeing how Kitty has grown through the course of the series. It makes for such rewarding reading.

    Even better, is the fact that 2 Kitty books are being released a month apart, rather than having to wait a year for the next installment!

  3. Wow I'm behind. I've only read the first 3 and although found the third a bit harder to get thru ( I think because I read 3 quite awhile after I'd read the first two)I do enjoy Kitty and her world.

  4. What Hagelrat said! I still haven't been able to find this, and I'm sooo anxious for it! I heart Kitty. :-)

  5. LOL Hagelrat I think it is supposed to hit the stores on the 27th. I don't mean to taunt. I consider myself very lucky to get an early copy.

    I've been hooked since the first book. Such a fun premise and Carrie Vaughn has told some great stories. I'm reading Kitty Raises Hell this weekend.

    Rebj I hope you get a chance to catch up. At least you have lots to look forward to.

    Hope you are able to find it next week. I have seen release dates from the 27th through Feb 1 so it should be on shelves shortly.

  6. I'm almost finished with Silver Bullet.

  7. Princess Allie your just in time for number five.

    Ladytink. Enjoy. I just finished Kitty Raises Hell and it is great too.

  8. I am so envious! I can't wait to read #5 & #6. I think that'll be a reading marathon for me, for sure! =) I will be giving away the full set of books (yes, 1-6) on my blog soon, so hop over to check it out in the next week or so... =)

  9. I just finished it, so I've read all 5 Kitty books in the last 5 days. It was great. Your review was spot on perfect and very well done.

  10. Drey you are going to have one lucky winner! I'll drop by to see how it goes.

    Mo loved your set of reviews. A guide guide for readers tinky about ready Kitty.


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